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The Saint John River is one of the six main rivers in the West African nation of Liberiamarker. With its headwaters in neighboring Guineamarker, the river flows generally southwest through Liberia and empties into the Atlantic Oceanmarker at Bassa Cove near Edinamarker in Grand Bassa Countymarker. The long river has a drainage basin covering .


The headwaters of the river are in the Nimba Range of the Guinea Highlands in the country of Guineamarker and flow south towards the border with Liberia. Near Yalata, Guinea it begins to form the border between Guinea and Bong Countymarker in Liberia. Flowing generally south, it forms the international boundary for around 6 miles. At Niatande, Liberia, it meets the Mani River and enters Liberia, forming the boundary between Bong and Nimbamarker counties. The river then flows to the southwest for approximately 15 miles before turning to the southeast for a 12 mile stretch. Near Zahn it takes a small river, and turns southwest again.

After about 15 miles it begins to form the boundary between Bong and Grand Bassamarker counties and turns west for about 10 miles. The river then continues to the southwest, and after approximately 30 miles it enters Grand Bassa County. After around 8 miles it turns south for eight miles and then flows back to the southwest for approximately 10 miles. Near Shoigabli it turns due south for about 9 miles where it passes Mount Finley and turns more westerly and flows generally southwest for another 9 miles. Between Zoblum and Alfabli the Saint John widens and flows to the northwest for around 3 miles before heading west for a mile to Hartford. The river then dives to the southwest for its final 6.5 miles. Here it receives the Mechlin and Benson rivers as it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Edinamarker and Buchananmarker.


The river’s drainage basin covers over both Liberia and Guinea. At in length, it is one of the six main or major rivers of Liberia. There are only 16 rivers in the country total. The average annual discharge of the St. John is as measured at the inland station of Baila. During the wet season in October, flows average , while in February during the dry season the flows average at the same location.

The mouth of the river is approximately south and east of the Saint Paul River’s mouth near Monroviamarker. Flowing generally southwest from its source to the ocean it contains occasional rapids and a waterfall. Near the ocean the river reaches its widest point of about across and is the location of Factory Island, the largest of the many islands in the river. The river received its name from Portuguese explorers in the 15th Century who spotted the mouth on St. John’s feast day.

Aquatic life

The Saint John River has a variety of aquatic life in and along the shores over the length to the river. Species include the Slender-snouted Crocodile on inland portions of the waterway. There are at least 65 species of fish in the river, including species of Mastacembelidae, Barbus eburneensis, Chrysichthys johnelsi, Killifish, Electric catfish, Nile perch, and Tilapia among others. Birds also use the riverbanks and islands as nesting grounds, including the Three-cusped Pangolin, Palaearctic, Sandpipers, Greenshanks, Little Ringed Plover, and Water Chevrotain in the Kpatawee Wetlands area in Bong County.


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